meant to post this one awhile ago…sorry its kinda “outdated” *grin*
I am sitting in the “A” line waiting to board my Southwest flight from Nashville to Columbus…a flight that is now 45 minutes late. The lady at the counter just said over the Pa system that its not necessary for people to be standing in line yet since we won’t be boarding for another thirty minutes at least. I am the only person in line, so I assume my impatience must be annoying her. So I just sat down.
Its really hard to be 50 minutes from home and have your plane delayed, especially if you haven’t been home in over a month like me. When I called to tell my mom the plane was late I wanted to cry at just the sound of her voice on the other end of the line. And I am 24 years old and a little over a month away from being a married woman who lives 3000 miles away from her. And here I am wanting to cry because my reunion with her is 45 minutes later than I had planned on. I can’t help but think how utterly unprepared I am.
I thought after almost two years of traveling for a living, it would be easier. But its not easier, just different. You never get over missing home. You always wish planes were on time. You are always running late to the airport and the lines are always long. You might tell yourself “man, its not usually this busy on Tuesday afternoons” to ease your own fault, but you know the airport is always busy. Even on Tuesday afternoons.
Still I remember feeling being a “fresher” traveler. Now I don’t mean that in an physical sense- stale air isn’t kind to anyone. But my heart was definitely more fresh. I know that cause just a minute ago I tried to tell myself “maybe there is a reason the plane is delayed” and when I wasn’t sure if I really believed that I half-scolded myself into trying to see the good in it or at least the people around me. I smiled at this older woman as she read her book in her red rain jacket. She barely looked up. Then the man sitting next to her scowled in my general direction, although he never actually looked at me, and placed their carry-on suitcases in line right in front of me! The only thoughts in my mind were far from seeing the good in them- all I could think was all of their bags looked larger than carry-ons are supposed to be. These kinds of things can really make you mad…well at least if you are a rule wielding, right brained, first child like myself. Sigh.
On our first tour ever, everything went wrong and I mean everything. After the first few hours of the trip that was set to last over a month, I started wondering ‘who in the world plans a promotional tour in February?’ I was tempted to start complaining- maybe I did complain- but it doesn’t matter because once we actually made it onto that first flight Beth and I made a pact. We made a pact to breathe deep when things would go wrong and to look and even search for goodness in the midst of all of the inconveniences. I imagine it was Beth’s idea because she is a lot more even that I am…when we are running late I am the one who needs reminded to breathe so my face can return from red to the correct color. I am the one who feels the stress surging through my body. I am the one who cannot stand for things to diverge from the agreed upon itinerary. I get loud and flustered and she gets quiet. I don’t really know if she gets quiet because it feels better to her or if its just her natural reaction or if she just pulls away in fear of me. I would really like to believe its simply because she doesn’t experience the same stress sensations that plague me, but I think its probably more the fear of her explosive older sibling. Still whoever’s idea the pact was, it might be the best pact I have ever made.
Like I said everything went wrong on that trip. We hurried to the airport, nearly missing our first flight. Stress had overtaken me so we split up to check in, thinking it would be faster, but then when it was time to reconnect she had her phone turned off. I was red faced and very close to crazy when I found her. We raced to the gate, that tense silence hanging between us, and took up at the end of the line. Just then they announced our flight was at least two hours late. I wanted to cry then too, but a totally different kind of cry then when you miss your mom. I want to have a violent cry-the kind of cry that is the only left avenue when you realize (or maybe decide) you cannot punch someone. Instead of the punching or the crying, we let our eyes say we were sorry and got milkshakes at some dumpy fast food place a few gates down. That’s when we made the pact. The timing of that was impecible because after that things continued to go horribly off course. We missed flights…spent 17 hours in the Pheonix airport and even lost our luggage in Albeque and had to get clothes (and everything else) at the 24 Hr Walmart at two in the morning so we could be ready for an eight am meeting. It was a trip wrought with annoyances. And yet it was a trip full of everyday miracles.
I never knew airports and planes were such great ways to meet people, but in that month we met the most amazing people. I cannot remember everything that went wrong, but I do remember all the people we met. We had even come to see not sitting next to each other as an opportunity to meet people- like it was a secret mission. One of those times Beth got to talk to a Stewardess who was Russian and looked so young I wondered how old you have to be in order to become a Stewardess. They sat in the back of that little ‘puddle jumper’ plane and discussed the majesty of creation and how there must be a Creator of some type. On the same flight I sat next to a woman from Canada. She was sharp with me at first seeing the Bible in my lap. Apparently some bad Christians had trampled parts of her life. It was a long loud flight though and she warmed up to me out of necessity. The best conversation I had had in months! She was brilliantly smart and open and funny in a crass kind of way that endeared her to me. In less than three hours she had become my friend…I knew all about her life from her married daughter she wished wasn’t so distant to the divorce she had endured but never recovered from twenty years earlier. We parted with a hug. I met Beth in the airport and she was positively beaming. She loved the girl from Russia and knew intuitively that she was supposed to be in that back seat even though it didn’t recline. Our days were full of purpose and adventure as we traveled haphazardly and when we arrived at our destination we still had plenty of words and time and ears for those people. It was like the miracle of the loaves and the fishes happening over and over again.
I know my heart is tired-er now because people annoy me. I wanted to like someone on this plane but it feels so much harder now to meet a kindred spirit. While we were waiting in line to board the plane, the man behind me was snacking on a mixed bag of pretzels and cheez-its and apparently he didn’t really care for the pretzels because every few minutes or so he would move over to the trashcan and throw away a pretzel- like one single pretzel- and then get back in line and snack until he came to another pretzel and go back to the trashcan. Now, I am not a fan of pretzels myself, but I had to fight the urge to ask “why don’t you just eat the cheese crackers and leave the pretzels and then just throw the whole bag away?” Now I realize this is a ridiculous thing to be annoyed at someone for doing, but still you have to agree its odd behavior. Well pretzel man is sitting in the aisle seat and I am in the window seat. You kind of feel like on an almost empty flight no one should sit in your row like it is part of regular airport manners. So when he sat down, threw all his stuff in the seat between us, and even brought up having to scarf down his dinner it took willful effort on my part to smile and say some dumb thing like “yeah I hate when that happens”. He started the conversation, so after a pause I asked him if he lived in Columbus or was on business and he answered politely, but in that way that lets you know he thinks you are being a bit intrusive. I put on my headphones so I could be consoled by something familiar.
God, help me…that’s I could think. Just God help me. I need your freshness…I love this quote by GK Chesterson…praying it into my life…
“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say “do it again!” and the grown up person does it again until he is neearly dead. For grown up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough…It is possible that God says every morning, “do it again”, to the sun; and every evening, “do it again!” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike: it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that he has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”
…God give to me an “ETERNAL APPETITE FOR INFANCY”…even if its for late planes, stale air, and weird-cheezit-eaters…